We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly & Caleb Geer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly & Caleb, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
After working at Tree Shepherds for a few years and seeing all of the trees that get removed and end up chipped up and/or in a landfill, Caleb built a mill to start converting logs into usable slabs. He started out by making small benches coat racks and cutting boards and selling them at local craft fairs. When he started getting requests to build custom pieces for people’s homes, Urban Tree Merchants was born. Caleb worked part-time developing the company while also getting his degree and working part-time with the tree care company, Treehuggers, in Tarrant County. After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington in December of 2018, Caleb took the business full time. For the past few years, we have seen steady growth as Caleb has enhanced his skill set and increased his experience. Caleb and Kelly’s passion for the Urban Wood Industry has only gotten stronger with each passing month of being in business. In October of 2019, Kelly joined the company full time. Kelly and Caleb believe in the importance of the work they are doing. Instead of cutting down trees or creating a large carbon footprint by importing wood from around the world, Urban Tree Merchants creates slabs, decor, and furniture by working with local tree care companies to use the trees they are already removing. According to the Urban Wood Network’s website, “Trees removed from our cities and communities due to death, storm damage, or other circumstances are a resource worth saving. When processed, sold, and utilized, the U.S. could produce nearly 4 billion board feet annually to cushion local economies, reduce expenses for communities, and provide a sustainable, renewable resource to beautify our [businesses,] homes, and neighborhoods. A thriving urban wood market would mean more holistic management of urban trees, where every part of the tree, from seed to sawdust, can be put to its highest and best use instead of being wasted. And it would mean that artisans and consumers alike would be able to enjoy the beauty that urban wood provides for generations to come.” 1 As more businesses get behind the Urban Wood Movement, we will have a healthier environment, we will be better utilizing the earth’s resources, and we will be leaving a stronger world for future generations. 1 https://urbanwoodnetwork.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What makes us unique compared to other woodworking companies or sawyers is that we have the tools to be a full-service company. From milling our own lumber to installing a custom piece, we walk with our clients through every stage of the process. We offer milling, air & kiln drying, planing & surfacing, finishing, epoxy resin work, metal fabrication, custom design & installation, and wood repairs. We love being able to take a customer’s tree and turn it into a piece for their home. One of our favorite projects so far started with a phone call from Tree Shepherds Tree Service in Denton County. They had a client whose 100-year-old pecan tree had died and they were interested in making the trunk into a mantel. We saved the trunk as well as every branch with a diameter over three inches and made the client a mantel, two accent wall archways in the living room, two accent walls in the kitchen, a full accent wall in the master bedroom, a live edge bench, and a patio table that seats six. It was such an incredible experience to see the tree transformed into so many different pieces and the customer was thrilled to have their favorite tree represented all over their home. All of our services are also available on their own. Whether you are a professional woodwooder or a hobbyist, we can help plane and surface slabs up to 60 inches wide and over 10 feet long, mill your log to custom dimensions, add an epoxy river to a table, heat sterilize a log or slab with a bug infestation and more. You can bring your project to us at any stage of the process and we will work with you as much or as little as you need. The most important thing we do is work with local tree care companies to source all of our wood. We like to say, “No trees are harmed in the making of our products.” When companies like Tree Shepherds and Treehugger Tree Service have to remove a tree, we take the logs and mill them to sell as raw slabs or turn them into custom projects. Working exclusively with Urban Wood aka Urban Salvaged Lumber is a way for us to do our part in appreciating the natural beauty around us, protecting the earth from deforestation, and reducing the environmental impact of the wood manufacturing industry.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Favorite evening in Arlington, TX: Dinner at Hurtado BBQ and Drinks at 4 Kahunas Tiki Lounge – We LOVE Hurtado. From the Brisket to the Barbacoa Tostadas, everything there is mouthwateringly delicious! If you have not been to 4 Kahunas, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! Each drink is full of flavor and packs a punch. Their cocktails are made with freshly-squeezed juices and specialty house syrups. I recommend the Kahuna Painkiller, 3 Hour Tour, and the Jet Pilot. 2. Favorite Hangouts Around the Metroplex: Dallas Design District (Ascension Coffee, CINQ Gallery featuring Andrea Tello’s beautiful Ecuadorian handmade silver jewelry, Samuel Lynn Gallery, Craighead Green Gallery, Town Hearth, The Charles, Sassetta) & Bishop Arts District (Wild Detectives, Eno’s Pizzaria, Ten Bells Tavern, Emporium Pies, Dude Sweet Chocolate). 3. I also love Cane Rosse, False Idol Brewing, Witherspoon Distillery, Top Golf, Uchi & Uchiba, and Trinity Groves (Liquid Nitrogen Drinks at Beto & Sons and Kate Weiser Chocolates).
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Working for Tree Shepherds Tree Service in Denton County helped me see the need to harvest Urban Wood. The trees we removed were beautiful and still had so much potential. I realized there were SO MANY trees that get removed and just go to landfills and I wanted to tap into this awesome natural resource. They also help us collect trees and are trusted advisors for our business Treehugger Tree Service in Tarrant County has been an invaluable part of our growth over the past few years. They rent us equipment at affordable rates, help us connect with customers, give us trees, and provide advice and counsel when we need help with business decisions. The Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce has been a huge part of our growth over the last year. The Chamber offers so much support for its members and hosts great networking events to help expose and connect Arlington businesses. We would not be in business without the support of our Landlords, Scott & Lisa. They appreciate the work that we do and give us the land resources on which we do it! We also have a great network of family and friends who have supported us in many ways along the road.
The photo of the bench was taken by Tim Brestowski. @timssocialmedia The photo of Caleb sanding was taken by Orange Bear Photo. @orangebearphoto